The weekly Daley: Looking for answers

By From page A6 | November 09, 2012

The post-election malaise of the Republicans and post-election euphoria of the Democrats is to be expected. I heard several pundits say, “The Democrats did exactly what they said they would do, and it worked just like they said it would.” Of course, that is 20-20 hindsight.

By contrast, the Republicans did pretty much what they said they planned to do, but the results weren’t up to expectations. Some consultants’ heads have already rolled, I’m sure.

As in every major election in living memory, this one had some elements of surprise, unpleasantries, acts of God, quirks of technology and downright weirdness.

The two Republican senate candidates with a penchant for saying the most amazingly stupid things got whacked, as they should have. But they still got a lot of votes. The notion of “legitimate rape” and God’s intent that the victim carry a baby produced by rape is so troglodytic that it defies explanation. And those guys still got hundreds of thousands of votes.

I was reminded of the New Jersey senate race two years ago when the Republicans put up the “I am not a witch” candidate. What were they thinking? What were they thinking this time when they ran Richard Mourdock to fill the senate seat held for decades by Richard Lugar? By all accounts, Lugar was a pretty sensible guy who represented Indiana respectably for all those years, yet Mourdock got the support of the party. Applicants for city dog catcher are vetted more carefully than these odd characters.

I spent a week in Florida earlier this year. I didn’t notice any obvious governmental dysfunction. Traffic lights worked. Illegal parking resulted in tickets from the police. The air was plenty breatheable and I felt totally confident drinking the water everywhere. Fortunately, I didn’t have to try to vote. Had I tried, I might have been there two or three weeks instead of just one.

Seven- and eight-hour waiting lines to vote looked more like what you’d expect the opposition to endure in some banana republic. You wonder, how hard can it be to fashion a system in which citizens can vote in a timely, orderly manner? Other states seem quite adept at it.

New York and New Jersey voters had a rough time, but there was a perfectly explicable reason for it. And their states made it work for them. I was in and out of my polling place in about five minutes. Admittedly, Placerville isn’t Miami-Dade County, but the people in charge have known that for nearly a hundred years. And cutting back on the number of early voting days just compounded the problem. It’s enough to bring out the conspiracy theorist in me.

States that elected Democratic senators but voted for Mitt Romney by a significant margin leave me scratching my head. Is that poor campaigning? Schizophrenic voting patterns? Kind of strange or just unpredictable? And if it is predictable by the campaign gurus, their methodology also leaves me scratching my head. Doesn’t it seem that the same voter pool would vote more or less the same way for senator as it would for president?

California voters clearly think the “3 Strikes” law is unclear, unfair and unevenly applied, so they voted to improve it. That’s kind of modern and progressive thinking. Yet by about the same margin, they voted to retain the state’s death penalty. That strikes me as neither modern nor progressive thinking.

The amount of money spent on the election is being described as “obscene.” Both sides have said that in pretty much the same way, although I suspect what they mean is that the “other guys” were obscene in their spending, and they had to do the same just to keep up. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to sway a tiny percentage of voters seems like way-overkill. But, I guess it worked for one side, and the other side will figure that next time they’ll have to spend that much plus a little more to get the win.

Finally, it kind of creeps me out to see news networks project the results of a national election 16 seconds after the polls close in a particular state. They can’t really know that, can they? Can they really know with that kind of certainty how the two-block neighborhood between Main Street and First Avenue in Rockpile, West Virginia is going to vote — to the extent that they would risk their reputation and credibility by making a prediction that the entire world can see?

In fact, I guess they really can. Maybe in the future, we won’t need to vote at all. Just put those smart heads together with their computer models a couple of weeks before the first Tuesday in November and let them do their stuff. Then on the day after “election day” they can announce how it all turned out. Think of the money it would save, and people in Florida could go to the beach instead of standing in line all day just to confirm what the smart heads already knew.

Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or [email protected] Follow @CDaleyMtDemo. 

Chris Daley

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